skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 229343 Find in a Library
Title: Detecting Specialization in Offending: Comparing Analytic Approaches
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:25  Issue:4  Dated:December 2009  Pages:419-441
Author(s): Christopher J. Sullivan; Jean Marie McGloin; James V. Ray; Michael S. Caudy
Date Published: December 2009
Page Count: 23
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Since it has not yet been determined whether newly developed research methods applied to offending specialization are studying the same operational definition of "specialization," this study used four frequently applied approaches to this issue with a single dataset.
Abstract: The authors believe that their general description of "offending specialization" as "a tendency to repeat the same crime or type of crime over time" is a fair representation of the concept, based upon theory and previous research. Given this definition, all of the methods used in this study revealed that some degree of offending specialization was present in the data, and all four methods reached similar core findings, which is promising for knowledge building. None of the methods found that distinctions among offender types in terms of their criminal behavior were significantly strong. Because offenders rarely have crime profiles that span every possible offense type or involve only one offense type, researchers must often decide tipping points for classifying offenders as "generalists" and "specialists." The four methods used were the forward specialization coefficient, the diversity index, latent class analysis (LCA), and a multilevel latent variable (IRT) approach. These four methods provide a fair cross-section of the various methods used to detect and describe offender specialization. The IRT model is apparently the most comprehensive; it incorporates all offenses that occur in a single event; includes all offenders, not only those who commit at least two offenses; and includes the frequency of all offenses. It also provides for specific hypothesis tests regarding the degree of specialization and the impact of relevant covariates. The study sample consisted of 1,308 juvenile inmates in 3 California Youth Authority facilities during the 1960s. The sample is considered representative of the population of juvenile offenders incarcerated in California during this time period. 6 tables, 72 references, and appended supplementary data
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Crime patterns; Offender profiles; Offense characteristics; Research methods
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.